The Encyclopedia of Taoism
A good reference site with many Taoist materials on it. Worth spending some time and exploring for a more historical look at Taoism.
Chuang Tzu By Zhuangzi ( Chuang Tzu )
Lin Yutang, Translator This is one of the most famous Taoist works. The statement “Am I a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man” comes out of this work. This isn’t a complete translation. Rather it’s a selection from the larger works of the Chuang Tzu. This is in the Public Domain.
Tao Te Ching By Lao Tzu
R. B. Blakney, Translator
 The Tao Te Ching is by far the most central book in Taoism regarding public mindshare. Its simple prose mixed to deeper insights offer an excellent starting point for those wanting to experience Taoist thought. This is in the Public Domain.
Tao Te Ching By Lao Tzu
J. Legge, Translator
(Sacred Books of the East, Vol 39)  A classic baseline translation for the Tao Te Ching This is in the Public Domain.
The GNLTao Te Ching By Lao Tzu
Peter A. Merel
 A composite version based upon several earlier translations of the Tao Te Ching. This is an open source book.
More Versions of the Tao Te Ching
By Lao Tzu, This link will take you to an archived copy of a now inactive site having a hundred English translated versions of the Tao Te Ching and dozens of translations in other languages.
Another Online Collection of the Tao Te Ching
This link will take you to a still active site having some translated to English versions of the Tao Te Ching
I posted several translated versions of the Tao Te Ching in the library. Each version will have cross links so a reader can quickly jump and compare the various translations. No one version is correct. Instead, focus on the images you experience while reading each one.
Keep in mind hundreds of other translations exist.
What’s an acceptable translation? Scholars fight entire careers over this little topic.
So to clear things up, here is the truth of the matter:
Taoism simply states: it doesn’t matter. Words can never capture the true Tao.
Translations change over time, due to personal differences, cultural changes and the shifting nature of language to be relative to now. So discover over time new meanings upon each reading. This is about your own relative needs “in the now” determining how to embrace these works best.
Don’t worry about the translation, just enjoy each one as it is!
Approaching Taoist Writings as a Student
Here is a student conversation about learning Tao
I did take out a copy of the Tao Te Ching from the library and I’ve been reading through it slowly. Actually, a question just came to me… I don’t feel that reading and thinking about the Tao is really getting me any closer to where I want to be. I feel like I’m just adding more thoughts and words and labels when I should really be freeing myself from them.
Firstly: The Tao Te Ching is poetry. Not to be read like a book, but glanced at when the whim strikes you.
If you would burn a holy book in front of most people of most religions: they would fight you, to save the words. (Words never burn, only paper)
If you would burn the Tao Te Ching in front of a senior Practitioner of Taoism, they would just turn around and leave you to your actions. In fact, they might at the right times help burn the book. Since life is werd… not the word being werd. But when you say word right, and you hear it and live it, then you can capture werd.
When the cultural revolution happened in China in the 1960’s, and the red guard came to the Taoist monks demanding their “holy books” to get burned. The Taoists just gave the books and shrugged, since the lessons were not in the books, but in the heart.
It’s how you live life that defines Tao, not all will make sense at once, nor will it all be seemingly relevant, but books such as the Tao Te Ching are there to help open up new angles to look at life. But they cannot truly define you, and if you define yourself to the book, you then limit yourself.
We change our life shifts and meaning traces with our life. The point being, when you read something, trying to get at absolute truth, to define something absolutely, well you end up trapping oneself in those walls of definition.
People get trapped in definitions, words, labels which is perfect since that is what you now ask about trying to learn about Taoism. Taoism is about the freedom to live as your heart beats.
Secondly and more importantly to this question.
We live in cycles
- At times we need to intake like a breath: ideas and concepts. These are the times you read such books like the Tao Te Ching
- At times we exhale, to live and act.
These are the times to jump and live fully. To define the world not to the definition but your actions, trial and error, play and testing what the world is from your own hearts perspective.
Your question tells me that you are currently exhaling into your life: so put the book down, jump into a smile and play.
Look at your life and look to see if you are inhaling of your nature or exhaling out your being.
Then dance accordingly.
Intaking and Releasing into one’s life.
This is the Tide of the Tao
Additional Online Taoist Resources
Taoism and the Arts of China (Teacher’s Resource from an exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago)
Taoist Treasure– Taoist Scriptures and Sacred Texts in English
The Nei-yeh (Inner Cultivation or Inward Training) Anonymous
Other Taoist Books
Cultivating the Energy of Life by Liu Hua-Yang
Seven Taoist Masters translated by Eva Wong
The Essential Qigong Training Course by Ken Cohen (video)
The Secret of the Golden Flower by Thomas Cleary
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
The Taoist Classics, Volume 1 by Thomas Cleary